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Here’s where the money chase stands in Tampa Bay’s legislative races

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Tampa Bay legislative candidates have filed their second-to-last campaign finance reports before Election Day, and Republicans still look like they’ll hold onto five of the six Senate seats covering Hillsborough or Pinellas counties.

Sens. Tom Lee, Bill Galvano, and Jeff Brandes have already been re-elected without opposition, while Clearwater Republican Sen. Jack Latvala only faces a write-in candidate.

Democratic Rep. Darryl Rouson faces Republican John “Mr. Manners” Houman in the SD 19 race, though he has been piling on to his campaign finance lead in the left-leaning district.

Rouson added $48,400 between Oct. 15 and Oct. 21, and has about $65,000 in the bank compared to Houman, who had less than $100 on hand after raising $0 in his new report.

SD 18 is a little more competitive, though Republican Rep. Dana Young still has a firm lead over Democratic attorney Bob Buesing.

The Tampa Republican added another $23,200 in campaign contributions and has more than $570,000 in the bank. Her committee, “Friends of Dana Young,” didn’t add anything during the week-long reporting period, but it is sitting comfortably with about $860,000 on hand.

Buesing was able to tack on another $27,855, but his war chest was sitting at about $63,000 on Oct. 21.

No-party candidate Joe Redner put $60,000 of his own money into his campaign on Oct. 18, making him the top SD 18 fundraiser during the reporting period, though his campaign is in the negative. Fellow no-party candidate Sheldon Upthegrove posted $0 in his report, and sits with about $500 in his campaign account.

In the House, Republican Reps. Jake Raburn, Janet Cruz, and Jamie Grant were re-elected, and Democrat Sean Shaw is already on the list for the freshman class. Republican Reps. Chris Latvala, Chris Sprowls, and Larry Ahern also should hang on to their seats with minimal opposition.

Republican Rep. Shawn Harrison, who is in his second “first term” as the HD 63 representative, is still in a tough battle with Democrat Lisa Montelione.

He both out-raised and outspent Montelione in the new report, with about $18,000 coming in and $60,000 heading out.

Montelione, who was able to raise $24,000 in her previous report, raised just $6,739 and spent just $127 between Oct. 15 and Oct. 21.

Republican Rep. Kathleen Peters also is facing a decently funded challenger in the HD 69 race, though she managed to pull in $24,000 to Democrat Jennifer Webb’s $7,265 in their new reports.

Peters’ total fundraising hit $370,000 on Oct. 21 and she still had about $152,000 of that money on hand. Webb has raised about $138,000 so far and has just over $10,000 in the bank.

Republican Rep. Ross Spano was also able to put a little more space between himself and Democratic challenger Rena Frazier in the HD 59 race.

The incumbent Republican pulled in $27,580 compared to Frazier’s $12,031. His total fundraising is now just shy of $350,000 and he has about $95,000 in the bank, while Frazier has raised a total of about $185,000 and has about $77,000 on hand.

Democrat Ben Diamond once again out-raised and outspent Republican Joseph Bensmihen in the race to take over for exiting Rep. Dwight Dudley in HD 68.

Diamond added another $14,000 and spent $10,000, leaving him with less than $15,000 on hand after raising more than $366,000 this cycle. Bensmihen raised just $250 and spent $7,361, for an on-hand total of less than $1,000 on Oct. 21.

Republican Jackie Toledo also came out on top against Democrat David Singer in the race to replace Young in HD 60.

Toledo raised $24,200 and had more than $90,000 on hand on Oct. 21, while Singer brought in just $5,360 and had about $4,000 in the bank.

The seat leans toward Republicans, and with the financial advantage Toledo has built up, she is likely to hold Young’s seat for the GOP.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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